The family of murder victim Jessica Riopelle is grieving privately after the 23-year-old was killed in a motel room Saturday.
“We’re just too overwhelmed right now. We have to go,” said mother Karen Riopelle and another woman who didn’t give her name before closing the door to a house in Orleans.
Karen and Jessica were very close.
“That’s her baby,” said another female friend of Karen’s.
The victim’s father Ronald Riopelle and his wife Lise live with Jessica’s younger sister, Chelsea, a few minutes from Karen’s place.
“No comment. Please leave,” Jessica’s step-aunt who answered the door at the family home said repeatedly. Her eyes were swollen from crying.
Neighbours said the slain woman – one of three sisters – visited her dad once in a while.
Pat and Maureen Fish live a few doors down and have a daughter who’s 23 — the same age as Jessica.
“We didn’t know her but we feel awful for Ron,” said Pat Fish.
He described his neighbour as a great guy.
“When there’s a snowstorm, he’s always out with his snowblower, always helping everybody,” Fish said.
Sara Mahfouz, 24, lives next door and said the news of the murder is upsetting.
“She’s close to my age,” said Mahfouz. “It’s obviously sad.”
Mahfouz shared a mutual friend with Jessica: Scott Ledoux, who was Ottawa’s third homicide victim of 2011.
Ledoux was stabbed to death at a house party in Orleans on March 18.
Jessica attended his funeral last Tuesday.
Four days later, her body was discovered in a room at the Saade International Inn, a motel attached to Diamonds Cabaret strip club and All Win Chinese restaurant on Bank St. in South Gloucester.
Ottawa Police have executed a search warrant, said Det. Kevin Wilcox.
Patrick Dunac, 34, is facing a second-degree murder charge and will be assessed by a court psychiatrist Wednesday.
Jessica’s death has been devastating for those closest to her.
“She was my best friend,” said Natalie Desjardins, who has known Jessica since they were 12-years-old.
Others only knew her for a couple of years but are mourning deeply.
“She was a great friend. She would cheer people up when they were down or upset,” said Eric Masson.
He last saw Riopelle, who once dated his friend Rolly, a few months ago.
“I remember hanging out with her and Rolly like it was yesterday,” Masson said.
“(I) never thought I’d have to say goodbye. If tears could bring her back I’d have an endless sea… I miss her already.”
-With files from James Culic